Isaiah 57 - Outline of Isaiah (Book Notes menu page)
The thought continues from the previous chapter...
The blessings of the Messianic Kingdom (Isa 56:1-8) would come in the distant future. However, in the near term, Jerusalem was about to be devoured by enemy nations, while Israel's false shepherds indulged themselves (56:9-12), and their people gladly followed in pursuit of their worldly ways. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the LORD continues to care for the little flock who follows Him (as described in the next two verses).
1. The righteous perisheth {HB='abad, dies, is destroyed, exterminated},
and no man layeth [it] to heart:
and merciful men [are] taken away
{HB='acaph, removed, gathered},
none considering that the righteous is taken away
from the evil
{HB='ra, distress, calamity} [to come].
2 He shall enter into peace
{HB=shalom, completeness, soundness}:
they shall rest in their beds,
[each one] walking [in] his uprightness
{HB=nakoach, straight before him}.
The righteous...- Believers, justified by faith, live in anticipation of the salvation to come (56:1).
The likeness of their Lord is evident in their lives, for they are righteous {ie., just, lawful} and merciful {HB=chesed, full of loving-kindness}. Therefore, godly men stand out, in sharp contrast with political and spiritual leaders, who are characterized as blind watchmen, dumb and greedy dogs, and foolish shepherds (in 56:9-12).
...perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart...-
The attrition of righteous men from society is little noticed by men who love darkness (Mic 7:2,3).
Instead, the ungodly are happy to be rid of them. Unbelievers think the lives of unwanted believers are wasted and rightly rewarded with persecution and untimely death. But the reality (that they do not recognize) is that the LORD takes His own away to spare them the trials of coming judgment. This was the case prior to the Babylonian captivity (eg., good king Josiah, 2Kin 22:16-20), and it will also be true during the great Tribulation period (Rev 14:13).
...they shall rest... each one walking...- For believers, death is not the end,
for each one continues walking the straight and narrow path which they followed in their earthly life. Lifted out of fleshly weakness and worldly opposition, they are free to more fully follow their heart's desire, which is to please the LORD (2Cor 5:1-10; Heb 12:23).
3. But draw near hither, ye sons of the sorceress,
the seed of the adulterer and the whore.
4 Against whom do ye sport yourselves?
against whom make ye a wide mouth, [and] draw out the tongue?
[are] ye not children of transgression, a seed of falsehood,
5 Enflaming yourselves with idols under every green tree,
slaying the children in the valleys under the clifts of the rocks?
6 Among the smooth [stones] of the stream [is] thy portion;
they, they [are] thy lot: even to them hast thou poured a drink offering,
thou hast offered a meat offering.
Should I receive comfort in these?
but draw near hither, ye sons of the sorceress...-
In contrast to the condition of His children, the LORD now addresses the condition of the unregenerate. The language can be applied equally to those who practiced idolatry in Isaiah's day, and to those who will follow the false religion of the Antichrist. Thus, the picture broadens beyond Israel to all who are engaged in spiritual adultery. seed of the adulterer and the whore. ...a seed of falsehood.
These are not the children of God, but the children of another father (Joh 8:40-44). They are called 'a seed of falsehood' because they present themselves as the people of God. But in truth, they are tares among the wheat (Mat 13:38), walking in the steps of their spiritual father.
  • sport yourselves... make ye a wide mouth... draw out the tongue...-
    Their mockery of the children of God (v.1-4) is, in effect, mockery of their Father, and Savior (Psa 35:20-22; 22:7,8; Isa 37:23).
  • enflaming {ie., arousing} yourselves with idols...-
    The sexual overtones, in v.5-8, reflect the debauchery of idolatrous worship, as they gave themselves to idols in sexual orgies and child sacrifice (Lev 20:2-5). But it applies figuratively to all forms of spiritual adultery, which is unfaithfulness to the LORD to serve another (Hos 1:2; Rev 17:1-5).
The smooth stones (v.6) were objects involved in idolatrous worship. cp. Jer 3:9; Hab 2:19; Jer 7:18
7 Upon a lofty and high mountain hast thou set thy bed:
even thither wentest thou up to offer sacrifice.
8 Behind the doors also and the posts hast thou set up thy remembrance:
for thou hast discovered [thyself to another] than me, and art gone up;
thou hast enlarged thy bed, and made thee [a covenant] with them;
thou lovedst their bed where thou sawest [it].
9 And thou wentest to the king with ointment,
and didst increase thy perfumes,
and didst send thy messengers far off,
and didst debase [thyself even] unto hell.
10 Thou art wearied in the greatness of thy way;
[yet] saidst thou not, There is no hope:
thou hast found the life of thine hand;
therefore thou wast not grieved.
...thy bed... discovered thyself...- The description of spiritual adultery continues.
  • ...thou wentest to the king {HB=melek} (v.9)- The name of the idol, Molech, means 'king.'
  • ...and made thee a covenant with them...- In addition to worshipping false gods, they looked to the great men of the earth for their peace and security (Isa 30:1-6; Eze 23:2-20; cp. Rev 2:21,22).
thou art wearied in the greatness of thy way... saidst thou not, There is no hope.-
The work of securing the well being of the nation and world is toilsome and heavy... too heavy, in their view, to commit to the LORD. They see no option but to press on, in the futile way that seems right to man (Prov 16:25). Thinking that their own hand secures their prosperity and controls their destiny, they find the strength to do what they want to do, and have no sorrow for their sin, though God grieves for them. Jer 2:23-25; 44:16-18
A somewhat different sense is brought out by other translations of v.10. For example...
  • "You were tired out by the length of your road, Yet you did not say, 'It is hopeless.'
    You found renewed strength, Therefore you did not faint." [NASB]
That is... thinking that they had found sufficient strength in their own hand, they were encouraged to continue in their ungodly way.
11 And of whom hast thou been afraid or feared,
that thou hast lied, and hast not remembered me, nor laid [it] to thy heart?
have not I held my peace even of old, and thou fearest me not?
12 I will declare thy righteousness, and thy works;
for they shall not profit thee.
13. When thou criest, let thy companies deliver thee;
but the wind shall carry them all away; vanity shall take [them]:
but he that putteth his trust in me shall possess the land,
and shall inherit my holy mountain;
14 And shall say, Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way,
take up the stumblingblock out of the way of my people.
of whom hast thou been afraid or feared? - cp. Isa 51:12,13
They were afraid of men (as enemies). They reverenced men and false gods (as helpers).
I held my peace and thou fearest me not... - Psa 50:21; Rom 2:4,5
I will declare {expose, make known} thy righteousness... -
ie., The worthlessness of their self-righteousness and empty works will be brought to light.
Their false confidences, whether collections of idols, or companies of soldiers, will fail and vanish (v.13a).
but he that putteth his trust in me shall possess the land... inherit my holy mountain...- v.13b; Isa 56:4-7
and shall say ...Cast ye up {ie., build up (the road bed)}... (cp. Isa 62:10)
     ...prepare the way...- (Isa 40:3-5; Luk 3:4-7)
     ...take up {ie., remove} the stumblingblock...-
The promised day, when the righteous will return to the LORD on the highway of righteousness, will come. Every obstacle, which might have hindered a pilgrim's progress on that way in prior times, will no longer be an occasion for stumbling. No one will be offended at Christ (1Cor 1:23), or for the weakness of a brother (1Cor 8:9), or for the weakness of his own flesh (Heb 12:13), or for any other cause (Isa 35:8-10). Yet, none who refused the invitation to come will be among them...
15 For thus saith the high and lofty One
that inhabiteth eternity, whose name [is] Holy;
I dwell in the high and holy [place],
with him also [that is] of a contrite and humble spirit,
to revive the spirit of the humble,
and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
16 For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth:
for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls [which] I have made.
17. For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him:
I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart.
18 I have seen his ways, and will heal him:
I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners.
19 I create the fruit of the lips;
Peace, peace to [him that is] far off, and to [him that is] near, saith the LORD;
and I will heal him.
the high and lofty One...- is the LORD.
(cp. these words in Isa 6:1, 'high and lifted up'; and Isa 52:13, my servant 'exalted and extolled')
that inhabiteth eternity... with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit...-
Who is this humble One who inhabits eternity with the high and lofty One?
The Servant of the LORD, our Savior, meek and lowly in heart (Mat 11:29),
who made Himself of no reputation and humbled Himself to die on the cross (Php 2:6-8).
For what purpose?...
to revive {HB=chayah, to give life, to sustain life} the... contrite ones...-
Note that the 'contrite One' accomplished what the 'contrite ones' could not do for themselves.
They, being dead in trespasses and sins, could do nothing to help themselves. Being 'contrite' {ie., crushed, broken}, they mourned {lamented} their sinful condition, but could not free themselves. cp. Psa 34:18; 51:17; 138:6; Isa 61:1-3; Mat 5:3-6; Eph 2:1-9
for I will not contend for ever... neither will I be always wroth...-
The wrath of the Holy God against sin was satisfied in Christ (Isa 53:4-6).
For those who are in Him, His work of redemption is 'finished' {ie., 'paid in full', Joh 19:30}.
(cp. Psa 85:5-7; 103:9-17; Mic 7:18; Isa 42:5-7)
for I will not contend for ever... for the spirit would fail before me... and the souls...-
While this statement brings relief to the believer, it should be cause for alarm for the unbeliever. For if God will not always contend {ie., argue His case} before men, the offer of salvation is for a limited time and can be withdrawn without further notice. Then, exposed to God's unmitigated wrath, the spirit of any created being will 'fail of strength' to stand before Him. All must be consumed. But that is not His desire for His creatures. 2Pet 3:9,10
I will heal him...- In v.17,18, 'him' refers primarily to the nation of Israel.
cp. Isa 1:18; Eze 16:60-63; 36:22-28; Hos 14:4-9
I create {HB=bara, shape, form, arrange in order} the fruit of the lips...-
The LORD orders... the outcome of the proclamation of His Word (Isa 55:10,11; 2Cor 5:20,21)
...the outcome of repentance (Hos 14:2) ...and of the confession of the believing heart (Rom 10:8-10).
Peace, peace... to far... and... near...- "The doubling of the word conveys
     its perfection and perpetuity, i.e., 'perfect peace,' as in Isa 26:3." [WEVine]
He gives Peace abundant and overflowing, to every one, Jew and gentile alike, who trusts in Him. Acts 2:39; 10:36; Eph 2:14-17; Isa 55:1
20 But the wicked [are] like the troubled sea, when {lit., for} it cannot rest,
whose waters cast up mire and dirt.
21 [There is] no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.
the wicked... cannot rest {ie., be quiet, lie still}...- Prov 4:16,17; Isa 3:9-11
like the troubled {HB=garash, driven, tossed} sea...
whose waters cast up {HB=garash, toss up} mire and dirt...- Mat 15:19
There is no peace {HB=shalom}, saith my God, to the wicked.- cp. Psa 73:18-20
This statement marks the close of the second section in the final division of Isaiah (see outline of Isaiah). The overall theme of this division (ch. 40-66) is "Salvation." The first section, with its announcement of comfort to Israel (ch. 40-48), closed with a nearly identical statement, differing in that it was from "the LORD," the God who established His Covenant with Israel (Isa 48:22). Israelites who cut themselves off from Him have no peace.
     This second section, describing the price of redemption, and offering the purchased salvation to all who thirst (ch. 49-57), closes with a statement from "God" {Elohim}, for the Savior is "the God of the whole earth," and Israel, having turned away from the LORD, is like all other nations, in need of Him.
     There is no source of peace, apart from Him (v.15,19; Rom 5:1; Eph 2:14; Col 1:20-22).

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